The science of fear

Daniel GARDNER wrote an excellent book titled “The science of fear”. Based on the latest information about human psychology, he explains the incoherent reactions we have in front of fear.

The problem relies mainly on the fact that our mind is driven by two entities: the “guts brain” and the “rationale brain”. The guts brain is what operates by reflex, by instinct. It is what allowed our ancestors, the cavemen, to survive. It does not think a lot but reacts awfully fast. It is the guts that makes as run when we see a snake. The “rationale brain” is the part that actually thinks. Unfortunately, it is slow and lazy.

Thus, the first reaction comes from the guts and later (if the brain believes it needs) the rationale reaction. It is why people may become havoc. The guts have been tuned to survive in an environment that slowly changed for several million years. And it worked fine. But since several decades, the world is changing extremely fast. the guts are not anymore fine tuned. The rationale brain is fine tuned but it reacts too late.

The book illustrates why this conflicts makes that we do not evaluate correctly the risks, why we have the feeling that the world is going worse, how the media use (consciously or not) this bias, why we have a wrong perception of fear…

An example: would you ask if the world is safer in our days than two centuries ago. Most people would say that it is worse today. But the facts prove the contrary. There were never in History less wars than today. The criminality rate is 20 to 40 times lower than 3 centuries ago!!! But with media showing always murders, wars or disasters, the guts believe that we are in hell! And brain does not take time to analyze the figures (by the way, people are awfully bad at numbers (see section 5))

Once you read this book, you will probably have lost a lot of proud about human: the caveman is really not far.

If you are interested in security and psychology, read the book. And I am definitively convinced that there is a link between both. A good book to read (if only for section 5).

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